The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference

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Closing Remarks by the Governor General

Ottawa, Friday, June 15, 2012

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When last we spoke, you were embarking on a two-week journey to a variety of communities across Canada. As we gather, one last time, here in Ottawa for the closing of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, I hope that not only did you find this experience enlightening, but that you were also challenged in your perceptions of what leadership truly means.

Once again, I would like to thank you for your involvement, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to commit yourselves to this conference. Your presence here shows that you are dedicated to strong leadership and that you value learning opportunities. And I would also like to show my appreciation for the work you put into your presentations over the last few days.

Clearly, you have learned much about leadership and about our great country.

I know that you have been inundated with leadership tips, tricks and advice over the past two weeks—including some from me—so I will not add too much to your no doubt overflowing cups, but I would like to identify one aspect of leadership that was a central part of this journey: collaboration.

During my international visits, I have spoken of the concept of diplomacy of knowledge between nations. This diplomacy happens when we share ideas across borders and learn from each other through a variety of exchanges.

But diplomacy need not only be international in scope. Locally, we have a responsibility to share knowledge.

George Bernard Shaw defined collaboration best when he said: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

I hope that you leave this conference with new ways of thinking, ideally with more than two new ideas, and with the realization—or more likely the confirmation—that together we can accomplish so much.

In this room are the men and women with whom you travelled and shared this leadership expedition. No matter where you are from, no matter what industry or field, no matter your age or your experience, I am willing to bet that you all found a common thread, one that united you as Canadians and as leaders. In doing so, you opened yourselves up to what others had to say. And you were able to present your findings as a cohesive unit.

Collaboration in leadership means listening to those on your team. Everyone brings a special skill or talent to the completion of a task or goal. As leaders, we need to identify, nurture and support those skills.

In addition, it is important that we collaborate across disciplines. The lessons learned by a for-profit business can benefit a non-profit association. Or lessons in art can inform science. These are not abstract theories; these have been proven by so many leaders throughout history.

As you leave Ottawa to return home, I hope that you take the lessons that you learned here and apply them in your daily lives. I also hope that you will remain in contact with your peers; that you will continue to share ideas, identify challenges and devise creative solutions.

In Halifax, I asked what you were hoping to gain from this conference. Judging from our conversations and your presentations, I can see that expectations were exceeded.

I wish all of you the very best in helping to lead this country towards our 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 and beyond. You have all of the tools necessary to be the leaders of tomorrow, but I believe you are also the leaders of today.

Thank you.

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